All-Region Girls Swimming: Monica Bottelberghe

Monica Bottelberghe, Columbia River

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter



Rest of All-Region team

• Ada Beale, jr., Seton Catholic: Fifth at 2A state in 200 individual medley; 10th in 100 breaststroke.

• Carly Cannon, jr., Hudson's Bay: Placed sixth at 3A state meet in 100 backstroke.

• Anna Panebianco, so., Camas: Placed 11th in 4A state meet in 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke.

• Darya Samiee, so., Mountain View: Fifth at 3A state in 500 freestyle; ninth in 100 breaststroke.

• Julia Sanders, sr., Hockinson: Finished prep career with 10 state titles at Class 2A.

• Andrea Young, sr., Union: Sixth at 4A state in 200 individual medley; eighth at 100 breaststroke.

For the second year in a row, Monica Bottelberghe was significantly faster than everyone else in the Class 3A 200-yard freestyle race at the girls swimming high school state championships.

Satisfying? You bet.

But, for Bottelberghe, it was not the most compelling event of the meet.

That happened a short time later, and resulted in a silver medal for the Columbia River junior.

In the 100-yard freestyle, Bottleberghe posted a personal-best time of 50.91 seconds.

That it was 0.31 seconds slower than Anna Keane of Meadowdale High School — the second consecutive year Keane edged Bottelberghe in the race — did not diminish the experience.

“I love racing. I’d much rather have a race than an easy win,” Bottelberghe said.

Not that she minds winning. Based on her times, and her state-meet medals, Bottelberghe is The Columbian’s all-region girls swimmer of the year for the second season in a row.

Bottelberghe said the decision to stick with the two freestyle races at state for a third consecutive state meet was hers.

“Freestyle has been my stronger stroke lately,” she said. It was a decision I made, but I definitely had help from my coaches.”

No matter how many medals she collects, Bottelberghe is always pushing to get faster. This year, her motivation was enhanced by coming within less than 1 second of an opportunity to swim the 100 freestyle at the summer’s Olympic Trials.

“It was definitely something I was aiming for,” she said of qualifying for the Olympic Trials. “It only happens every four years. The (qualifying) times are only going to get faster.

“It was disappointing, so I guess I used that as motivation to train harder,” Bottelberghe said. “I’ve trained harder every year. I really pushed myself this year.”

Not that Bottelberghe can ever be accused of slacking off. During the high school swim season, she would usually follow her school day with two practices — about two hours each with her high school team and her Portland Aquatic Club team.

And all that time in the pool was rewarded with that state championship — and something less tangible but perhaps more significant.

Swimming for hours a day, Bottelberghe said, is “a good stress reliever.”

Season highlights

• For the second year in a row, won the 200-yard freestyle championship at the Class 3A state meet — with a personal-best time of 1:50.05.

• Placed second in the 100 freestyle at state — another repeat performance — in a personal record time of 50.91 seconds that is a All-America standard.

More about Monica

• Swimming for Portland Aquatic Club at the recent Husky Invitational, Bottelberghe broke 1:50 in the 200 freestyle for the first time (1:49.82). She finished tied for fourth place at that meet with Class 4A state champion Felicity Cann.

• Taste in movies: "I don't like scary movies and I don't like zombies. That's definitely a no go."

• How about holiday movies? Elf. "I've seen it too many times. I can quote it."

• Music: "I really like Taylor Swift, but I try not to listen to her during swim meets, just because it doesn't really pump me up."

Next year and beyond

• Monica plans to keep swimming faster, and to swim in college like older sister Jessica, who currently swims for Boise State.

"Swimming's fun. It's an individual sport, but there's a team atmosphere. Everyone supports each other."

Monica Bottelberghe

On how she sells swimming to peers